Establishing robust measurement and monitoring frameworks is a key requirement of offshore geological carbon storage projects. These monitoring frameworks are needed to provide confidence and certainty to the community regarding the use of this technology as an atmospheric CO₂ emission reduction tool.

The challenge

Cost effective and practical marine monitoring for CO₂

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) activities require a robust measurement, monitoring and verification (MMV) programs, yet there is work still to be done to determine what to monitor and how best to monitor.

Saildrones are solar and wind powered USV platforms that can go to sea for 12 months without returning to dock. Whilst at sea Saildrones can continuously collect information about temperature, salinity and carbon, sending data back to researchers via satellite.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) like this Saildrone will collect data to monitor and observe the ocean.

The marine environment poses particular challenges and although technologies exist which can detect CO2, they are often not well integrated, making them costly. More effort is required to determine the best configuration of equipment to reliably record and report changes in CO2 which are outside of natural variability experienced in marine environments.

Our response

Fit-for-purpose technology

We have formed a collaboration with a range of researchers (GipNet research program ) in the coastal Gippsland region to test a range of monitoring and verification technologies for potential future carbon storage projects in Australia.

Technologies which have been procured and will be tested include moorings and seabed frames (termed landers) which are equipped with a range of sensors to measure parameters such as CO2, pH, oxygen, methane, temperature and salinity. Passive acoustic sensors and underwater sonar systems (echosounders) will provide information on CO2 bubbles.

In addition to these static platforms, conventional repeat marine surveys will characterise the marine environment through acoustic methods using multibeam echo sounder and a sub bottom profiler and allow the collection of samples. These manned surveys will be augmented by surveys by an unmanned surface vehicle (saildrone) which will also be equipped with a number of sensors and trialled to determine its suitability as a monitoring tool for CCS. This will be the first time that these platforms have been deployed in Australian waters.

The data gathered will be used to calibrate 3D models which simulate water movement as well as chemical and biological processes in the near shore Gippsland environment. These simulations will and the field data collected will allow better predictions of natural variability as develop guidance on the best configuration and suitability of sensors for CCS measurement, monitoring and verification (MMV) purposes.

This infographic shows the equipment and technology that will tested and monitored as part of the offshore Carbon Capture and Storage monitoring for marine environments. This includes:

  • Surface carbon monitoring
  • Saildrones
  • multibeam echo sounder
  • sub-bottom profiler
  • remotely operated vehicle (RDV)
  • CTD and water sampling
  • Sub-surface mooring
  • Sensor pack
  • Instrumented seabed frame

We will carry out extensive testing and monitoring of state-of-the-art technology at prospective CCS sites

The results

Validation of MMV in the marine environment

The research program will test and validate a range of technologies and methods that CCS projects could adopt to monitor coastal environments where CO2 geological storage sites may be located. From our research, the methods for MMV of subsea CO2 storage in the marine environment are to be advanced.

We will develop:

  • Modelling tools for use in designing CCS-related marine environmental monitoring plans
  • A state-of-the-art networked technology toolkit that has been field tested and optimised for offshore CCS environmental monitoring
  • A database of environmental signals for reference use in future monitoring
  • Novel, rapid-assessment tools for biological indicators of environmental impact, based on (e)DNA approaches

The outcomes will not only be relevant to Australia but also to the international community, informing best practice for monitoring CCS in shallow marine environments globally.

This research is made possible through funding provided by ANLEC R&D , the Australian Government's Education Investment Fund and the CO2CRC .

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